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Planning for collections and unique items in a will

Some of the most contentious inheritance disputes in Washington courts concern not money per se, but unique items such as valuable artwork or antiques, or even items of only sentimental value. People spend hours crafting their wills, attempting to treat their heirs fairly by dividing their bank accounts, but often forget to make a plan for great-grandma's rocking chair in their will. People spend years amassing collections of rare records, and then forget to ask if any of their children want them.

A well-crafted estate plan handles the distribution of property to one's heirs in a way that minimizes conflict. One way to avoid hurt feelings is to talk to one's heirs about what items they want to inherit and to let them know what they should expect.

For collections - and especially valuable collections - there are some other steps to take. First, it's often a good idea to have a collection professionally appraised long before the owner dies. This can help the owner to plan for a more fair distribution of property. It can also help minimize conflict later on if all the parties know the value of the collection.

For very valuable collections, estate taxes may come into play. One way to avoid having estate taxes eat into one's estate is to give some or all of the collection away before one's death. To avoid incurring gift taxes, the owner may have to give pieces of the collection away a little bit at a time, over several years.

While it isn't every King County resident who leaves behind a multi-million-dollar collection of antique cars, many families have treasured family heirlooms and sentimental items that should be part of an estate plan. A Washington estate planning attorney can help people to make sure these items go to people who want them and will preserve them into the future.

Source:, "Leaving a Collection to Your Heirs," April 28, 2014

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To speak with an attorney at Gellner Law Group about estate planning, probate, trusts, wills or tax controversy, contact our law office in Kent, Washington, today. You can call 425-336-2908 or send us an email. We provide representation across the entire Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area.

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